January 13, 2017 | Review Period

Swahili and Norwegian!

Pimsleurcising continues, along with ice-cream eating.

I am now 10 lessons into Pimsleur Swahili, and I am flipping back and forth between that and Pimsleur Norwegian, of which I have so far done four lessons.

There are 30 Pimsleur lessons available for each. A language appetizer.

Impressions: Swahili has a lot of syllables. It’s fun. Like nothing else I have studied before, and the woman speaking in the audio lessons has a very appealing voice that draws me in.

Pimsleur Walk with Swahili, Just After Sunset

Pimsleur Walk with Swahili, Just After Sunset

Norwegian’s main challenge for me right now is pronunciation. It feels more familiar than Swahili, because it is a Germanic language and I have experience with those.

But Swahili’s sounds are easier, with clean clear vowels, and even though it is more surprising to me than Norwegian, it is also significantly influenced by Arabic and I am recognizing plenty of words from that. Numbers, for instance.

I love recognizing Arabic influences in other languages. That happened with Turkish too. When I notice it, I feel happy.

Here’s how my health and fitness plan is going: I walk a whole bunch doing Pimsleur lessons and then I eat peanut butter and chocolate Häagen Dazs ice cream.

There is definitely room for improvement.

To a rather ridiculous degree, I am obsessed now not only with Pimsleur but also with my month-old Instagram account, where I can be found most days posting language porn, i.e., pictures of the covers of language books. It is not a very good use of my time, but I find it terribly satisfying! Kind of like cataloguing the world.

Comments (10)

Jim Wagner • Posted on Sun, January 22, 2017 - 8:23 pm EST

Hi Ellen!  Liked your opinion on Swahili.  I speak german, B1-B2 fluent in Spanish, and am going to work on French next. With the help of google translate, I read often in French and Italian, but I don’t claim to speak them fluently The reason I am taking on French is because Assimil offers so much with a French base.  After that I am looking to take on something “exotic” like Swahili or Arabic. Do you have a preference or do you consider one easier than the other?  Also, what other resources would you recommend besides Pimsleur?  I too like Pimsleur at the beginning of a language project. I then use Assimil,so what else?  You have become the “go to” person for resources.  Thanks.,

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Sun, January 22, 2017 - 9:43 pm EST

Jim! How great that you are thinking of Swahili or Arabic. I have very little experience with Swahili, but I believe, from all I’ve heard anecdotally and also noted myself to date, that you would find Arabic considerably more challenging. The writing system, the diverse dialects, etc.—Arabic’s challenges add up. Still, it’s rewarding…I like trying! I totally agree with you on learning French just to get access to all those Assimil resources. I have a lot of Routledge resources, but they are pretty intense, and anyway my recommendations would vary from language to language. If it’s French you’re after, I would absolutely recommend Practice Makes Perfect. They give you a lot of, well, PRACTICE! And you know what they say about practice!

Thomas D. • Posted on Sun, February 05, 2017 - 12:58 pm EST

Ice-cream and Swahili! Sounds absolutely wonderful. I wonder which “special” syllables Swahili has compared to European languages? Does it have a lot in common with Arabic?

I’m presently working (hard) with Arabic, along with the Algerian dialect (and extra-sugary espresso). It’s quite a challenge! How have you gone about studying Arabic, and have you got into dialects too? Until recently, I’ve studied languages primarily through reading, which is why I’m a bit set-back with the Algerian (oral) dialect.. I’m experimenting with listening to songs and gradually learning the words. I wrote a little about it here:
How would you go about studying an Arabic dialect?

The Sewing CPA • Posted on Mon, February 06, 2017 - 5:13 pm EST

Very interesting that Swahili has Arabic influence. I’m definitely interested in learning Arabic once I’m done with Mandarin. I’ve used Pimsleur before and I liked their teaching method. Good luck! Norwegian seems difficult, especially with the pronunciation.

Artie • Posted on Wed, July 05, 2017 - 9:46 pm EST

I am unfamiliar with Swahili and Norwegian, but peanut butter flavored ANYTHING is always the best.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Wed, July 05, 2017 - 9:47 pm EST

You are a wise man, Artie.

Anne S. • Posted on Thu, July 13, 2017 - 12:18 pm EST

Hi Ellen, I have enjoyed your website so much.  Any chance you will be at the Polyglot Conference in Reykjavik Oct 2017?  Hope so!

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Thu, July 13, 2017 - 1:00 pm EST

Yes, Anne! I will be there! :)

Anne S. • Posted on Fri, July 14, 2017 - 7:09 am EST

Fantastic!  Any recommendations for learning a little Icelandic?  See you then…I’m coming from Pittsburgh!

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Sun, November 12, 2017 - 7:22 pm EST

Hi Anne, it was great to meet you in Iceland. Did you end up studying in advance? I did exactly one hour of Pimsleur Icelandic to prepare. Not my noblest language-travel accomplishment! :)

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